"Man has a limitless capacity to achieve goodness." This adage from a fortune cookie seems to apply particularly to one Mobile man--Aaron Freesmeier. At 31, he has been in Mobile ten years, working first at Buffalo Wild Wings in Piccadilly Square, corner of Hillcrest Road and Airport Boulevard, then at Run-N-Tri in the same shopping center.
From the start, Aaron has looked for ways to do good things in the area, especially, but not restricted to, finding ways to encourage runners.
On Wednesdays, for example, runners and walkers meet at his store to traverse the 5K course through the friendly Pinehurst subdivision. Twenty-40 show up during the dreary, cold winter weather; the number of participants jumps to 50-60 as the more pleasant evenings of spring and summer appear. Freesmeier rewards the runners with gifts based on how many times they've completed the course--3 times, 5, 10, 25, 50, 100.
In a deal worked out with Buffalo Wild Wings, runners receive a discount if they eat at that restaurant on Wednesdays, and another percentage of their bill goes into an account for charity. Every 3 months, the accumulated cash goes to a selected charity, including so far, the Refugee Resettlement Program, St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, Animal Rescue Foundation, Habitat for Humanity, Ronald McDonald House, L'Arche, Save a Stray and Autusism Foundation.
Freesmeier is a runner himself, competing in 5K and 10K runs, marathons and a 50-mile race. So he's been very generous to local race organizers, providing gift certificates and products as prizes.
He organized a one-time run after the Boston Marathon bombing and raised $2,000 for the Red Cross. Over the past two years, counting this and the quarterly donations to local charities, Freesmeier has been a leader in donating $13,000 to charitable causes.
In addition, his store has purchased holiday dinners for needy families, and each month, collects 50 pairs of still-good sports shoes for Penelope House.
Freesmeier's reason for doing what he does? The runs, he said, are a way to bring people of like interest together. The resulting philanthropies, it seems, are just the way his heart works.
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